Not My Job: We Quiz Race Car Driver Danica Patrick On Slowing It Down
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where people who go very fast slow down to smell the roses, find out they don't smell so great and speed away again. It's called Not My Job. Racecar driving has always been a man's job, like playing pro baseball or screwing up the entire world.
SAGAL: But nobody told Danica Patrick that. She wanted to be a racer her whole life, going on to be the first woman to win an Indy car race and then to compete at the highest level in NASCAR. We're excited to have her with us.
Danica Patrick, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
SAGAL: So we found out, Danica, that you were very, very young when you decided you wanted to be a driver. Is that right?
DANICA PATRICK: I was 10.
SAGAL: You were 10. And what sort of inspired that? Were you a fan of watching races on TV? What was it?
PATRICK: No. And I'm still not, to be honest. I - you know, we were looking for something to do together as a family. I have a younger sister. She was eight, and I was 10 when we started. I started out in go-karts at 10, and then at 16, I moved to England and raced cars there for three years. And then I came back. And within a couple of years, I ended up in Indy cars.
SAGAL: So the first time you'd gotten in a go-kart to race it, did it, like, immediately strike you, like, yes. Yes. This is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life.
PATRICK: No. I crashed.
SAGAL: You crashed.
SAGAL: You see, I think the difference between you and I, among the many ones, is that I would have, like, immediately moved to, wow, I just don't feel the thrill anymore right after that first crash.
SAGAL: Just, like, boom - entire career done. In fact, you must have noticed somewhere - you rapidly rose in the ranks of drivers, but you must have noticed at some point that there weren't a lot of other women doing it, right?
PATRICK: Yeah. That sort of appeared to be the case.
SAGAL: And I'm just going to ask, did that cause you any problems coming up in the ranks?
PATRICK: Oh, all the boys gave me tons of attention.
SAGAL: Well, that's - I guess that's true. Was it an advantage, or was it a disadvantage?
PATRICK: Well, I won by default in the best-looking girl category as driver, so...
SAGAL: There you go. That's true. You always walked away with that trophy.
SAGAL: I'm sure you get this question a lot, but does this translate? Does your race career translate into your everyday driving? Are you out there drag-racing up and down the streets of Green Bay?
SAGAL: You are.
HELEN HONG: Yes.
SAGAL: Because my understanding is, like - I mean, I've actually asked this question to other racers before. And they're, like, oh, no. When I'm off the track, I'm just like everybody else. But you're, like, yeah. You do that.
PATRICK: I drive like an idiot.
SAGAL: Do you really?
SAGAL: Are you, like, taking turns on two wheels? Are you doing that stuff?
PATRICK: Well, I definitely - so you guys - I mean, we're getting more used to roundabouts here in America. I was very used to them in England because that's pretty much all they have. So yeah, either when I'm feeling racy or lazy, I just drive straight over them. Or, you know...
SAGAL: Wait a minute.
SAGAL: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
TOM BODETT: Wait - what do you drive?
SAGAL: You're telling me...
SAGAL: ...Like, that...
FAITH SALIE: Like, through the center?
SAGAL: Yeah. So a roundabout - as everybody knows, those are traffic circles that are getting, as you say, more and more common in America. And you're saying that when you get into one, instead of, like, yielding to the cars already in it and going around it to your exit, you just go careening right through the middle?
PATRICK: Yeah. You can just drive over the - over it, you know, as long as it's...
HONG: Oh, my God. I'm going to go try this right now.
SAGAL: Have you ever been, shall we say, caught?
PATRICK: Yeah, actually - not in Green Bay, though. I did here one day - my boyfriend came home, and he said, so my spies told me you were doing about 89 on the highway. And I was, like, oh, yeah. That was probably true.
PATRICK: I'll slow down.
SAGAL: Did you?
PATRICK: Well, I try and go - I try and keep it within 10 over.
SAGAL: Right. That's reasonable.
PATRICK: Yeah. I think so.
SAGAL: Have you ever been pulled over for speeding or anything else?
PATRICK: About 20 times.
SAGAL: And when you - and when they say, ma'am, I need your ID, and they look at your ID, do they react?
PATRICK: Yeah. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. And sometimes they say they don't, and then it's on the news.
SAGAL: What's the fastest you've ever been busted for?
PATRICK: Oh, over 30 over, which I was informed could be considered reckless driving. So I think the ticket was made for under 30.
SAGAL: Oh, OK.
SAGAL: That was very nice of them.
SALIE: Do you drive stick shift all the time?
PATRICK: No, but I would love to.
PATRICK: It's fun.
SAGAL: You can't get them. What do you drive now? What is your car of choice?
PATRICK: I drive a lot of Range Rovers.
SALIE: As one does.
SAGAL: So you're - there are - oh, yeah.
SAGAL: There's Danica Patrick.
SALIE: She has to go over the rotary.
SAGAL: Go over the grass, yeah.
BODETT: You need ground clearance.
SAGAL: Driving over the rotary 80 miles an hour in a Range Rover. You mentioned your boyfriend earlier. It turns out that happens to be Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. Is that the case?
PATRICK: That's correct.
SAGAL: That's correct. And...
SAGAL: I am told, again, that you yourself are a fan of the Chicago Bears.
SAGAL: Is that the case?
PATRICK: That would be a really poor situation. And...
SAGAL: That would be.
SAGAL: What you're saying is if that were to be the case, that would be awkward for your domestic happiness.
PATRICK: Yes. And I - the truth is that I grew up near Chicago.
PATRICK: I have a house in Chicago. I've had one for about 10 years there. And I was...
SAGAL: You were.
PATRICK: ...A Bears fan.
SAGAL: You are willing to concede that at some point in time in the distant past you might have expressed enthusiasm for the Chicago Bears. But you will go no further than that.
PATRICK: Look. I just painted my fingernails green. I have...
PATRICK: ...Drawers of Packer clothes.
PATRICK: And I am a...
SALIE: You have a foam wedge of cheese on your head right now.
SAGAL: Do you - I think that's the real question. Do you wear the cheesehead (ph)?
PATRICK: You know, I'm going to the Dallas game this weekend, and my girlfriend is going too, and she (laughter) had a cheese cowboy hat. And I'm, like, oh, my gosh.
PATRICK: You've got to get me one.
SAGAL: All right. Well, Danica Patrick, it is a pleasure to talk to you. We've invited you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: Slow Your Roll There.
SAGAL: So you go very fast, as we have heard. So you still do. So we thought we'd ask you three questions about very slow things. Answer two of them correctly, and you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - the voice of anyone they might choose on their answering machine.
Bill, who is Danica Patrick playing for?
KURTIS: Ted Schleisman from Des Moines, Iowa.
SAGAL: All right. You ready to do this?
SAGAL: All right. OK. Here's your first question. We think of sloths - you know, sloths - as being very slow. They're kind of goofy creatures who hang around on trees all day. But there is one time in its life when a sloth moves extremely quickly. Is it, A, while trying to escape humans who want to take selfies with them...
SAGAL: ...B, during sloth mating, which lasts five seconds; or C, when they fast-forward for the first 15 minutes of Marc Maron's podcast?
PATRICK: That would be the mating season.
SAGAL: You're right there, Danica. Yes. It's like...
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Sloths mate for five seconds. And that includes, by the way, foreplay.
SAGAL: That's true.
SAGAL: All right. That's very good. Sometimes it is good to be slow. Which of these things do we have slowness to thank for? A, penicillin was discovered because Dr. Alexander Fleming was really slow to clean up his lab, and his sandwich grew mold on it; B, Ben and Jerry of ice cream fame met when they were the two slowest kids running laps in gym class...
SAGAL: ...Or C, Brad Pitt, who only took his first acting class because he was too slow to sign up for what he wanted, metal shop?
PATRICK: I think it's penicillin.
SAGAL: You think it's penicillin.
PATRICK: I do.
SAGAL: No, actually, it's not. I mean, although we fooled you because penicillin was grown from mold but not on his sandwich, it was in a lab. But that's OK. The real answer was Ben and Jerry's. No, it was actually Ben and Jerry's.
SAGAL: Ben and Jerry's, as they say, were these fattest and slowest kids in the class. That's what they say.
PATRICK: Well, that makes sense that they made ice cream.
SAGAL: You know, and they got - became friends as they were always at the end of the pack. All right. This is not a problem, Danica, because you have one more chance. Last question - in 1904, Thomas Hicks had the slowest winning time for the marathon in Olympic history. He even had to be carried over the finish line he was in such bad shape at the end. Why did he run so slowly? Was it because, A, running shoes of the era were made of iron...
SAGAL: ...B, he had secretly bet $10,000 on another runner, but the other guy had bet on him, so they both ended up running as slow as possible...
SAGAL: ...Or C, poorly informed, he was using performance-enhancing strychnine?
PATRICK: Yeah, it was the strychnine, I guess.
SAGAL: It is, in fact, strychnine.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SALIE: Oh, wow.
SAGAL: It was an early time. They hadn't worked that out.
SAGAL: They thought it would help. They actually gave it to him at, like, a rest station instead of Gatorade - Like, here, have some strychnine and some raw eggs. And he ended up being in such miserable shape - this is true - that his trainers had to come out, pick him up by the elbows and carry him in the air over the finish line while his legs went deh-deh (ph) in the air. And he still won.
SAGAL: That's true. He was the winner. Bill, how did Danica Patrick do on our quiz?
KURTIS: The checkered flag came down on Danica's 2 out of 3...
KURTIS: ...And first place.
SAGAL: Congratulations. Does this maybe bring you back the thrill of competition?
HONG: She's too busy rolling over a roundabout right now.
SAGAL: Danica Patrick is a former professional racecar driver, and she's now host of the new podcast "Pretty Intense."
Danica Patrick, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
KURTIS: See you, Danica.
PATRICK: Thank you. That was fun.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAST WOMAN")
ANDREW JR BOY JONES: (Singing) She's a fast, fast woman. She's taking me fast, yeah.
SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill walks down the Cinnabon aisle in the Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
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